Here's an interesting philosophical question: If a company doesn't quantify its sales, but claims that product A sold X many more units than products B and C combined over Y number of days, does it have to issue a correction when that turns out not to be true? It may not be up there with "If a tree falls in the woods ..." but in tech and telecommunications marketing it's about as close as you get.
The company in question is Sprint, which on Monday generated some headlines (on the day that Apple unveiled the iPhone 4, no less) by announcing massive sales for its new Google Android-based phone, the HTC Evo. Sprint said that on June 4 -- the new 4G smartphone's launch day -- it sold three times the number of Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre phones sold over their first three days of availability combined.
Looking past the slightly bizarre combination of numbers -- should you have to think about sales statistics for more than half a second to be impressed? -- Sprint confessed Tuesday that it just wasn't true. In fact, Sprint moved only as many EVOs on Friday as it did Instincts and Pres in the first three days they were on the market combined. In other words, three times less than it said it did.
Not content to simply correct the misstatement, Sprint added that "launch day sales of HTC EVO 4G were six times greater than launch day sales of Samsung Instinct and nearly twice the launch day sales for Palm Pre." Maybe the company should quit while it's ahead. Either that or just disclose the actual sales numbers, which would make the comparison game considerably simpler.
Sprint also said Tuesday that its new 4G smartphone continues to outpace sales of Instinct and Pre. I would certainly hope so, considering the marketing push its given the phone.
After Sprint amended its convoluted sales comparison, BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk amended his sales projections for the HTC EVO, estimating that Sprint sold 150,000 devices in the EVO's first weekend, rather than the 250,000 to 300,000 he projected earlier. "Furthermore," he added, "our calls to 20+ stores today indicate that the phone is in short supply, so we do not expect that number to rise significantly in the first week of sales."
That's not good for Sprint, according to Piecyk, who said that "it's somewhat amazing that Sprint did not order more phones for the first weekend of the EVO given how confidently they spoke of this phone before its launch and the high level of pre-orders. ... Now Sprint must contend with the launch of the new iPhone by AT&T Wireless which has pushed the HTC EVO out of the mainstream press. It is really incredible that the planning for this product fell short given the time and hype leading up to this date."On the other hand, it's probably a bit early to be digging EVO's grave. It is, after all, the first 4G phone available in the U.S., and as Sprint rolls out that network in new markets, it's bound to attract a fair number of business users.